Sunday 26 March 2017

Is this former 'Neighbours' star the most organised mum ever?

Madeline West with two of her children. Photo: Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport
Madeline West with two of her children. Photo: Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport
Madeline West and her husband Shannon Bennett. Photo: Instagram
One of Madeline's family meals. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram
Madeline West at her book signing with Zoe Foster Blake. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram
An excerpt from Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport
Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport
The art of a well-made lunch. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Mother-of-six, Madeline West wakes up at 5am to prepare her children's breakfast and dinner, takes Polaroids of their favourite meals in case she's not around to make them, sends them to bed in their school clothes and always makes sure she has time for that special glass of wine in the evening.

The Australian mother, best known for playing Dee Bliss in Neighbours, has six children with her partner, Masterchef Australia contestant Shannon Bennett.

They're parents to Phoenix, 10, Hendrix, (seven), Xascha, (five), Xanthe, (three) and 14-month-old twins, Xalia and Margaux.

The 35-year-old said she keeps sane by keeping "multiple to-do lists".

Madeline West and her husband Shannon Bennett. Photo: Instagram
Madeline West and her husband Shannon Bennett. Photo: Instagram

Speaking to DailyMail Australia, she said "for anyone with children, it's all about the lists".

"Get the dinner ready before they all get up, even if it means getting up at 5am, pack their lunchboxes the day before, have a separate bookshelf for school library books and make the beds before you leave the house,'"she said.

One of Madeline's family meals. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram
One of Madeline's family meals. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram

Madeline said that while she understands that her routine might seem crazy, it's all about "finding harmony amidst the chaos".

She has published a book, or "anti-parenting manual" called Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport.

It gives insight into life in the West household and offers advice on how to survive the madness of raising a family.

Writing a novel was a step too far with such a hectic household so Madeline decided to stick with what she knew and penned 1600 words of heartfelt, humorous and honest diary entries about modern parenting.

While it seems that the busy mum is always on the go looking after six children, she does ensure that she has time for that special glass of wine in the evening.

"Wine is brilliant. I love to have a glass in my hand during the children's bath time, even if I don't drink it.

An excerpt from Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport
An excerpt from Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport

"It's a reminder that this is the ebb of the day, and that it's all downhill from here - in a good way!"

The actress also said that pyjamas are optional and she adapts the family's schedule to suit the priorities of the day.

Madeline West at her book signing with Zoe Foster Blake. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram
Madeline West at her book signing with Zoe Foster Blake. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram

"If you've got a particularly early start or busy morning, dress the children in their clothes for the next day the night before. Pyjamas are optional for me. 

"I figured if they're in clean clothes and getting into a clean bed, they're fine," she said.

An excerpt from Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport
An excerpt from Six Under Eight: When Parenting Becomes An Extreme Sport

She also said that she encourages her children to take responsibility for themselves. They're each allowed to enjoy one activity per school term but if they elect to do a second, they have to organise their own mode of transport.

"It teaches them responsibility, which I think children should learn early," she said.

She also doesn't believe in interfering too much in her children's arguments and prefers to let them resolve their issues themselves.

The art of a well-made lunch. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram
The art of a well-made lunch. Photo: Madeline West / Instagram

“When it comes to fights, I‘m a great supporter of the idea of letting them sort it out for themselves within limits, unless they’re getting into proper grievous bodily harm," she wrote in her book.

"I try to sit them down and get them to give their side of the story. If they each feel like they’re heard, like they’ve had their time on the soapbox, then that’s often all it needs for the fight to simmer down.”

Despite the book's message on parenting, Madeline said she doesn't believe there's a formula and that it's different for everyone.

“We all make mistakes, it’s part of the human condition but if we learn from them, that’s being clever and the mark of a good parent," she said.

“It’s about hope and joy and finding pleasure where you can get it. It’s about making this work. It won’t always be perfect but that’s OK.”

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